Norman Jewison's 1975 film 'Rollerball' is not a perfect film, it did have pacing issues, had heavy-handed moments and James Caan and John Houseman's characters were the only interestingly developed ones. The rollerball sequences however are truly exciting and harrowing, it's thought-provoking and relevant, it's well made and acted it has a powerful ending and it has some of the best use of classical music in film.
Whatever faults the original had, it's a masterpiece compared to this dreadful mess, which makes all the few faults of the original, magnifies them by a thousand and makes a plethora's worth of flaws on top. The remake of 'Rollerball' not only fails spectacularly as a remake, down there as the worst and most pointless ones out there along with 'Psycho', 'The Wicker Man' and 'Stepford Wives', but is catastrophically bad film in its own right. It is truly hard to believe that it was directed by the same man responsible for great films like 'The Hunt for Red October', 'Predator' and especially 'Die Hard'. One of the biggest falls in film quality ever and John McTiernan's worst film by a significant degree.
Not even the usually game and more Jean Reno is enough to save it, but actually comes off the least badly. The acting is very poor, and this is at best, especially from a chronically wooden and personality deprived Chris Klein, in a role that even the best of actors working today would struggle to do anything with, and Rebecca Romijin-Stamos who doesn't even try to act. Character development may not have been a strong suit in the 1975 film, but at least the two lead characters were interesting. Here there were no interesting characters at all, all of them severely underwritten ciphers.
McTiernan's direction has no style, personality, tension or energy of any kind, it's uncharacteristically incompetent career-worst and career-killing worthy direction and 'Rollerball' is a strong contender for the worst-directed film of that year. Don't expect good visuals either, 'Rollerball' is cheap, chaotic, too darkly lit and is to me has some of the worst editing for any film not to have SyFy or The Asylum's involvement. Eric Serra's, regular composer for Luc Besson's films, music score is never dynamic, in fact it's discordant and intrusive, and has nothing memorable about it.
School sports days are more exciting and suspenseful than the action here, and considering they and bullying were the lowest points of my school life that is not a compliment. No sense of danger, no tension, too darkly lit, chaotically edited and sometimes incoherent as well as too clean and glossy for something actually intended to be very dangerous (when it did try to be more violent it was gratuitously so), a huge problem for a film where it features heavily at the expense of everything else. The ending is as wet as a drip and floppy as badly out of date cabbage.
Dialogue is truly risible and should never have approved beyond first draft, and even earlier than that, the pace is so pedestrian the slowest snail moves faster in comparison and the story is redundant in all senses with no thrills or fun, lack of coherence is also an issue as is the jumbled structure.
Altogether, a catastrophically bad mess with no redeeming values (not even Reno). In the top 10 of the worst and most pointless remakes ever and on its own terms as a film it's not much better, even worse actually. 1/10 Bethany Cox